Study Guide

The Black Cat The Home

By Edgar Allan Poe

The Home

My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. (1)

There is a certain amount of undeniable truth to this assertion. It's almost as if the narrator is telling the reader that this scenario could happen in anybody's house, at any time. Here we have one of many examples of the narrator deflecting responsibility for his actions. But he's also alerting the reader that his story might hit close to.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. (3)

This sounds promising, sort of. It suggest that either the narrator doesn't know the woman very well, or that he does but isn't that into her. Instead of saying "we get along really well," he says "we didn't get along too badly." (It pays to notice when something seemingly positive is phrased in the negative.)

I suffered myself to use intemperate language to my wife. At length, I even offered her personal violence. (6)

Before the narrator turned on the woman, he turned on the animals. Without excusing the man, is it possible that married life and pets proved too much for him? He say he "married early"(3). From what he tells us, he'd never had a relationship with a person before, except maybe his parents.

The whole house was blazing. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. (10)

Now we know they had servants. More importantly, we know that all the pets have died. After years of abuse, they finally escape their awful "home," tortured by the flames. This also marks the end of this horrible phase of the family's life. Now they can move on to an even worse one.

When it reached the house it domesticated itself at once, and became immediately a great favourite with my wife. (16)

It's a second black cat, unless you believe it's some supernatural extension of Pluto. We picked this quote because it has the word "domesticated" in it, which speaks directly to the theme of home. If someone or something is domesticated, they have become content living in the domestic sphere. Unlike the cat, the man can't seem to domesticate himself.

One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. (23)

This is how we know the other house was probably fancy. After the hanging of Pluto everything goes down hill. We know that going to the cellar can't be good. Not in a story like this.